Posted by: dharmabeachbum | October 14, 2012

Coquina abundant in Myrtle Beach

The meek shall inherit the earth.

I’m paraphrasing any of 161 translations of the Bible, and I’m also stretching it a little bit when I characterize coquina as “meek.”

The saltwater clams may be bean-sized, but they are survivors. Exposed by receding waves, they burrow back into the sand just before the next surge gets them. The ocean is a hostile environment, and coquina thrive on beaches from Virginia to Texas.

Last week I walked the beach downtown and with each step in finer grain sediments the coquina (from the genus, Donax) spilled from under my feet. There were thousands of them . I was careful not to shout out, “coquina,” because half the hotel monthly renters would have been running in my direction.

See, crackheads are known to live in those monthly…ah, forget it.

I could be delusional, again, but it seems to me that Donax have been especially prevalent this year. I’ve seen them every day since this spring. They are most abundant in embayments — part of common beach formations known as cusps. Anyone familiar with the Grand Strand has seen them.

Beach cusps are a series of largely uniform arcs along a stretch of shoreline. They consist of horns and embayments. Coarse sediments are deposited on the protruding horn while the finer sediments of the embayment get eroded away, leaving one tongue-shaped recession after another in the beach.

I like walking through the horns since sharks teeth sometimes get washed up onto them with the thicker stuff.

Certain species of Donax migrate horizontally along the beach. I asked some coquina if they were among them, but they clammed up and wouldn’t tell me. After considerable observation, I determined that they were wanderers — explorers of the sand beyond the sand.

Coquina are filter feeders, ingesting phytoplankton and bacteria. They, in turn, are eaten by pompano, whiting and shorebirds. A large population of coquina is an excellent indicator of a healthy ecosystem.

Like most clams, they are edible. Unfortunately, it would take a thousand of them to make a decent meal. I’m kidding. A fella on the beach told me the other day that fresh coquina make for a delicious broth when boiled.

Sounds good to me. I’m goin’ coquina collecting.



  1. Thanks for the marine biology lesson this morning. I had to look it all up before I got in the shower! LOL @ the monthly renters running in your direction….

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